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1.2.13 Families with No Recourse to Public Funds

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

People who have no legal entitlement to financial support or assistance from the state are people who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). They may self-refer for support or are referred from other agencies. This procedure sets out how Lincolnshire Children's Services will respond to Families with NRPF.

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Procedure

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

No Recourse to Public Funds Network Practice Guidance

NRPF Connect

NRPF Network Assessing and supporting children and families who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF)

NRPF Network NHS healthcare for migrants with NRPF (England)

Securing British Citizenship for looked After Children - NRPF Network

This chapter was added to the manual in June 2018.


Contents

1. Who are Families with No Recourse to Public Funds
2. Role of the Local Authority
3. Procedures for Working with Families with no Recourse to Public Funds
  3.1 Completion of Assessment
  3.2 Steps to Take if Support is to be Provided


1. Who are Families with No Recourse to Public Funds

People who have no legal entitlement to financial support or assistance from the state are people who have no recourse to public funds. They may self-refer for support or are referred from other agencies.

Children's Social Care Services are likely to be approached by families with children or by children or young people who are unaccompanied or separated from their parent or legal/customary caregiver.

These families may be:

  1. People with refugee status from another European Economic Area (EEA) country other than the UK or are dependents of people in the UK who have refugee status from a EEA country other than the UK;
  2. People who are citizens of an EEA country other than the UK or are the dependents of people who are citizens of an EEA country other than the UK;
  3. Failed asylum seekers who have exhausted their appeal rights and who have failed to co-operate with removal directions;
  4. Persons who are unlawfully present in the UK who are not asylum-seekers, for example, people who have overstayed their leave to remain, people who have been trafficked into the country, people who entered the country illegally;
  5. People who have been granted limited leave to remain on the condition that they have no recourse to public funds, for example, people who are spouses/unmarried partners of persons with British citizenship or indefinite leave to remain, who have been granted a two year probationary period on condition of no recourse to public funds;
  6. People who have been granted discretionary leave to remain, for example, 'separated' children or young people from non-suspensive appeal countries whom the Home Office does not grant either refugee status or humanitarian protection, and are given 12 months leave to remain or until their 18th birthday, whichever is shorter;
  7. People on student visas who are unable to work and have no recourse to public funds.

(This list is by no means exhaustive and provides examples of the categories of people who may present to Children's Social Care Services as destitute and have no recourse to public funds.)


2. Role of the Local Authority

The local authority is restricted by legislation in what it can provide in terms of assistance and support for all the categories of people outlined in the previous section.

Under Section 54 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, families who fall under categories a. to d. are not eligible for support from the local authority under Sections 17, 23C, 24A or 24B of the Children Act 1989. They are also not eligible for adult social care support under the Care Act 2014 or accommodation under homelessness legislation.

The Home Office allows for limited forms of assistance to be given by local authorities to some families and this could be in the form of:

  • Travel assistance to leave the UK to people with dependents under 18 years;
  • Temporary accommodation to people with dependents under 18 years awaiting the implementation of their travel arrangements;
  • Temporary accommodation to people in category d. with dependents under 18 who are awaiting instructions for removal.

However, the local authority still has the following duties towards all children, young people and families regardless of their status:

  • To carry out a Child in Need Assessment for all children under 18 years old who are in families, where there may be concerns about a child/children's welfare and/or safety under the Children Act 1989 (including any issues that may indicate that the child is or has been trafficked or a victim of compulsory labour, servitude and slavery);
  • To carry out a Child in Need Assessment for all 'separated' children under the age of 18 and to provide them with services in line with needs identified under the Children Act 1989;
  • To carry out an assessment of an adult for community care services under the Care Act 2014 where the adult’s need for such services have not arisen solely due to destitution and/or to avoid a breach of the adult’s human rights which would otherwise occur if no services were provided.


3. Procedures for Working with Families with no Recourse to Public Funds

Families with no recourse to public funds usually present in one of two different ways:

  • Self-referral without an appointment;
  • Self-referral or referral by an external agency, by appointment.

Social workers need to consider if there is a possibility or evidence to suggest that there are child in need concerns or the potential for child in need concerns. This may include health needs affecting the parent/s or children, for example, chronic health conditions, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, or child protection issues, e.g. neglect, domestic violence and abuse.

Where a request for services has been made, a Child in Need assessment and usually a Human Rights Assessment should be undertaken as this will identify if there are any issues which would appear to breach the family’s rights if support were not offered.

Where the carer is a 'Zambrano carer' no Human Rights Assessment should be completed. The NRPF Network Fact sheet offers the following advice on Zambrano carers:

  • An accepted Zambrano carer is not subject to the same NRPF status in the traditional sense. Since 08.11.12, a Zambrano carer is excluded from being eligible to claim the following public funds: income support, income based JSA, income related Employment and Support Allowance, State Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, LA housing allocation, LA homelessness assistance, child benefit, child tax credit, universal credit, council tax benefit.
  • A person who has the right to reside as a Zambrano carer (whether they have Home Office documentation confirming this or not), is living in the UK lawfully and is not excluded from receiving accommodation and/or financial support under Children Act 1989. The Zambrano status is most commonly acquired by single parents. Local authorities need to consider any single parent family presenting with a British Citizen child as lawfully present, unless they have evidence to the contrary.
  • The Court of Appeal found that local authorities are under a positive duty to provide assistance to families under Section 17 Children Act 1989, where the parent is a Zambrano carer, is destitute and therefore their child is in need - Sanneh & Ors v SSWP [2015]. Local authorities are required to undertake a ‘basic needs’ assessment to ensure ‘that the child and the Zambrano carer are both properly looked after’. The Court also determined that the fact that Section 17 ‘safety net’ support exists for such families justified the government’s policy to restrict access to mainstream benefits and council housing for Zambrano carers, because the most vulnerable families would be able to receive assistance to alleviate destitution. Due to the parent’s role as a primary carer, it is often the case that Zambrano carers are unable to find employment, and, if they are working, will be unable to receive ‘top-up’ benefits that workers on a low-income can usually claim. If they are unable to provide for their family’s accommodation and/or essential living needs they will be destitute, in which case, the child would be ‘in need’.

If there is a strong possibility of such needs as outlined above, an Assessment should be undertaken.

When interviewing members of the family, social workers should explore, as fully as possible, existing sources of help and support in the community, voluntary groups, social networks etc.

3.1 Completion of Assessment

A social care assessment should be competed in all cases and a Human Right Assessment in the majority. When the assessments are completed, the social worker should discuss the outcome with their line manager.

If the family is in need of urgent/immediate support, the social worker should seek legal advice and discuss the case with their line manager. Authorisation must be sought from the Service Manager before any provision of immediate support.

Because of the 'no recourse' status of the parents, social workers will also have to check the following alongside the Child in Need assessment:

  1. Key Documents;
  2. Local Connection;
  3. Immigration Status of the Client;
  4. Destitution.

3.1.1 Key Documents
  a.

The person seeking a service must have sufficient identification although this may not be possible if, for example, the person is fleeing domestic violence and abuse. In such cases evidence should be established at a later date via the assistance of a solicitor or the police;

  b

If they do not bring the necessary documentation on first presentation, the assessment can still go ahead but the social worker must inform them that any decisions regarding provision of support can only be made when they have provided the appropriate documents, and they should have all the required documents before another interview is arranged;

  c.

If an interpreter is required, arrangements should be made with the interpreter to inform the person concerned of the documentation required;

  d.

Those seeking a service should be asked to verify their identity and immigration status with the production of the following forms of identification:

  • Passports and birth certificates for all members of the family;
  • If available, travel documents e.g. return air tickets;
  • Home Officer papers (Application Registration Card (ARC), application letters or refusal letters) and solicitors' letters; and
  • If available, bank account statements (from the last 3 months).
  e.

All identification documents supplied must be original documents, which should be photo-copied or scanned and the copy/scanned documents retained on the relevant file;

  f.

If the applicant or any dependents have health needs, they must provide any documented evidence of ill health or disability for any member of the family, e.g. OT reports, mental health/psychiatric reports.

3.1.2 Local Connection
  a.

It is important to establish where the person has a local connection as it may be another local authority, which has responsibility for this person;

  b.

Local connection criteria need not always apply, for example, if the person is at risk of violence if they return to the local authority where they have a local connection;

  c.

It should be stressed social workers will follow up on the contact details given by those seeking a service to make enquiries to verify the local connection;

  d.

If it is established that the person has a local connection with another local authority, social workers should refer the person to that local authority.

3.1.3 Immigration Status of the Client
  a.

Nominated persons will be able to ring the Home Office to check if the person concerned has a 'live' asylum application, been refused asylum, or has some other application pending;

  b.

Social workers should have the documentation outlined in Key Documents to establish the status and identity of the applicant and his/her dependents and this should be cross-referenced with the Home Office as fully as possible;

  c.

Social workers need to tell over-stayers they have a duty to inform the Home Office as they have approached the local authority for assistance.

3.1.4 Destitution
  a.

It is important to build up a clear picture of the family's circumstances and social workers need to assess if the client is indeed destitute, i.e. he/she has no means of supporting him/herself nor family or friends whom he/she can rely on for support;

  b.

Social workers must consider if the information given both verbally and in documented form is credible. If they do not think it is credible, they must be confident that there is enough evidence to the contrary (taking care to record this) in case the local authority decision is subject to legal challenge.

3.2 Steps to take if Support is to be Provided

3.2.1 Arranging Support

Social workers will need to ensure the Assessment Record sets out the basis upon which support for the family is provided and outlining the needs of the family. This should cover:

  • If the family needs an interpreter;
  • Special accommodation needs;
  • Health needs;
  • Length of proposed support;
  • The legislation under which the family is being supported, e.g. Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

3.2.2 Provision of Accommodation

Under Section 17 CA 1989 and where a child is a Child in Need (CIN), a family can be provided with accommodation, and this can include the parents where to do so would promote the child's welfare. This usually means that the whole family gets support if failing to provide support would breach the child's Human Rights. As above, this is dependent on the LA's assessment of the child's needs and each case will fall on its own merits, and the assessment of the Child's needs will be key.

3.2.3 Financial Support

There is no legislation or government guidance that sets out the rates at which financial support (subsistence) should be provided to a family when a local authority has a duty to meet the needs of a child under Section 17 Children Act 1989.

The courts have examined the rationale applied by local authorities in determining the amounts of financial support (subsistence) paid to meet the needs of children under Section 17 Children Act 1989. The leading case is that of C, T, M & U v LB Southwark (2016). The Court of Appeal is very clear that Section 17 is a target duty and decisions regarding the provision of support must be made to meet a child’s assessed need. The Court of Appeal goes further in specifying the extent to which local authorities should have regard to standard payments and rates set by another public body, and local authorities must ensure that they adhere to these principles:

  • An assessment must be carried out to determine the needs of a particular child, in line with statutory guidance and with proper consideration of the best interests of the child;
  • Support for families with NRPF should not be fixed to set rates or other forms of statutory support without any scope for flexibility to ensure the needs of an individual child are met;
  • Local authorities must undertake a rational and consistent approach to decision making, which may involve cross-checking with internal guidance or other statutory support schemes so long as this does not constrain the local authority’s obligation to have regard to the impact of any decision on a child’s welfare;
  • Child benefit is not designed to meet the subsistence needs of children so it is not rational or lawful to set standard rates in line with these amounts;
  • When it is in the child’s best interests for the family to remain together, payments for the parents should be made in addition to those considered appropriate to meet the needs of the children, but are not required to exceed what is necessary to avoid a breach of the parent’s human rights;
  • Lack of complaint from a family does not mean that the local authority can be satisfied that it is making payments appropriate to meet the child’s needs.

Finances and/or support may be provided where there is an assessed need. This should be authorised by the Service Manager. The amount of financial support will be kept under regular review.

3.2.4 Review of Support

A monthly update should be provided by the social worker to the relevant Service Manager providing an update as the support currently provided to each family with no recourse to public funding and steps taken to support the family to resolve the NRPF status.

3.2.5 Terminating Support

The decision to terminate support for an ongoing case should be made by the Service Manager. This needs to be informed with an up-to-date assessment.

The social worker will need to inform the parents if their support is to be terminated. This should be done in an interview, with the use of an interpreter if necessary.

The social worker should arrange for a letter to be sent to the persons concerned including an appropriate notice period (depending on the circumstances of the case) from when support will terminate and to advise them to seek legal advice if they disagree with the decision. This letter should be translated into the person's first language as appropriate.

3.2.6 Independent Family Returns Panel

Under Section 54A Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 (inserted by Section 3 Immigration Act 2014), the Secretary of State must consult the Independent Family Returns Panel in each family returns case, on how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children of the family, and in each case where the Secretary of State proposes to detain a family in pre-departure accommodation, on the suitability of so doing, having particular regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children of the family.

A family returns case is a case where a child who is living in the United Kingdom is to be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom, together with their parent/carer. 

Pre-departure accommodation is a secure facility designed to be used as a last resort where families fail to co-operate with other options to leave the UK, such as the offer of assisted voluntary return.

The Panel may request information in order that any return plan for a particular family has taken into account any information held by other agencies that relates to safeguarding, welfare or child protection. In particular a social worker or manager from Children’s Social Work Services may be invited to contribute to the Panel.

End